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Statement From Johanna Petit Chapman

Good Morning Your Honor,My name is Johanna Petit Chapman. Bill Petit is my brother and Jennifer,Hayley and Michaela were my sister in law and nieces.

I would like to thank you, Judge Blue, and your staff. Thank you to theprosecutors and their staff and thank you to the members ofthe jury. Thanksto all ofyou for your sacrifice and diligence in this case. The evil acts thatbrought us all here together should never have happened. And, as sorry as Iam that they did happen, I am sorry too that you have had to endure thewords and images that we, the family, have had to carry since July 23rd2007. Those images I carried with my brother Glenn after identifying thebodies. Steven Hayes reduced my beautiful sister in law and nieces tounrecognizable. Images so horrific that I never wanted another soul to haveto see them...partially, because they were so horrific and partially becauseothers seeing them made them real.

Steven Hayes thrust my children into an evil world that they should havenever been exposed to. He initiated them and all ofus into a club thatnobody wants to be a member of. By his selfish actions, he changed ourlives in ways that run far too deep and wide for words.

The defense team said that he is affected every second of every day becauseofhis actions. And while I fmd it loathsome to use their words...we, we areimpacted every second of every minute ofevery hour of every day of everyweek ofevery month of every year because ofthe heinous acts that hecommitted. He took the lives ofJennifer, Hayley and Michaela. He tookthem in such a cruel and tortuous way that we will be forever impacted. In away, he took my brother from me as well. The holes in our hearts are far toowide to ever heal.

Our lives have been impacted in every way- our work...means to make aliving, our health...emotional and physical, our marriage, our home life, ourholidays, our relationships with others...our ability to trust and feel safe, ourthoughts, our sleep, our dreams...our nightmares.

Celebrations and holidays ceased on July 23rd 2007. In September of2007there was a memorial service for Jen, Hayley and KK.. It fell on what should. have been a joyous and celebratory day for my family. It fell on September28th

•••the birthday that my two children share. We should have beencelebratirig their 13th and 16th birthdays...milestones. Instead, my 16-yearolddaughter spent the day at the memorial eulogizing her cousin, hermentor...her best friend, Hayley....or Haza or Hayes. But I just think ofher as Hayley now because he even took her nickname from her. I Can nolonger think of her by the name that her murderer has. My son spent his 13thbirthday seated with the rest ofus...sobbing.

Beyond the holidays...our every days have changed. We are startingbasketball season. Our family is huge fans ofbasketbal1. ..college hoops...UCONN hoops. I cannot even go into the Hartford Civic Center orGampel Pavillion without sadness. I still wait for Hayley to come throughthe door and flop onto our leather chair with a book and fall asleep. I stillwait for KK to shyly come in and check on the animals and the snack drawerbefore finding AJ. I still wait for Jen to call and ask if I want to ride togetherto see the girls play or go get a bite to eat. I am still tempted to call and askher what I should wear. I will forever miss talking to Jen. She was kind andcompassionate. She was always the first to give somebody the benefit ofthedoubt. The harshest thing that she would say about somebody who was meanor cruel was to call them a "baddy". That is how she taught her children.That is how she taught my children and all ofthe children who sheinfluenced.

With such a large family, it seemed as though we were always gettingtogether for something. It was always someone's birthday, anniversary,confrrmation, basketball game, play, concert, recital or holiday. So much so,that we actually took our closeness for granted. Jen and I would talk abouthow we never had any time because every weekend was spoken for. That allchanged on July 23rd 2007. How could we gather at my moms forThanksgiving and stand around the table hold hands and share what we werethankful for when there were three links missing? That first year after thegirls were murdered, we decided that we could not link hands atThanksgiving. We quickly learned, though, that staying alone and beingmiserable was no better than being together and being miserable. And werealized that so much had already been taken from us that we weren't willingto give up anymore. So now we get together, but, the joy ofthe holidays iselusive.. .it evades us. There has been no tree at Christmas. I want there to bejoy. I want there to be a tree...especially for my kids. I want them to riseabove the pain and adversity and have love and joy in their lives.

Funny thing about adversity. You can use it as a crutch as the defense teamfor Steven Hayes tried to do. Or, you can use it to strengthen yourself. Whenmy daughter was seventeen, she wrote an essay...and while it breaks myheart.. .it at the same time gives me hope. It gives me the hope that she willovercome. She wrote:

The Power to Overcome

With each passing day I wait for the pain to lessen, but it never does.Maybe because as time passes, I find it harder to remember the order ofherbooks stacked next to her bed, or the arrangement ofher postcards aroundher mirror. It's harder to hear Michaela's embarrassed laugh when I told herhow beautiful she was becoming. Their voices are slowly disappearing frommy memory. I can't quite get back the feeling ofjumping into the passengerseat ofher white car and immediately changing the radio station, on our wayto anywhere and everywhere. Perhaps the forgetting is what scares me themost.

On July 23, 2007 my Auntie Jen and two cousins Hayley and KKwere brutally murdered in a hostage home invasion. My uncle was beatenbadly, but survived. That day, not only was my second family taken fromme, but also I lost my best friend. At the age of fifteen I found myself thrustinto a horrific situation, one most people never experience in their wholelives. I didn't think this kind ofthing happened to people like me.(j).

Abandoned, I knew that no one could possibly understand how I felt.Everyone intellectually understood the magnitude ofthe loss- the loss oflife,loss ofhappiness, loss of family. It seemed to me what I lost was somethingmuch bigger. I lost my best friend and my idol. I lost the person I'd grownup with, the person I'd laughed the most with. I lost the person who wasalways there for me as my everyday confidant. I lost the person who alwaysknew what to do and always told me what to do. I lost the person who knewme better than anyone in the world. She's the reason I even considered anindependent education. I applied to Miss Porter's with the intention tobecome just like Hayley, and so this loss was the loss ofeverything I hadbased my life upon thus far and I wondered how I would continue on. As Istruggled to hold back the emotions, I wondered if eventually they would eatme away until I felt nothing.

As the days passed after the tragedy, I scrambled to hold onto as manymemories as possible. I saved the text messages from the days before andstared blankly at my cell phone's missed calls screen. I wanted to rememberevery freckle on her body, the way she moved, talked, wrote and laughed,and I struggled to remember the old innocently naive and happy me.

The Lights ofHope benefit found me in a disgruntled, upset moodand my gracious smile became harder and harder to uphold. As the comersofmy mouth curled towards the ground, the tightness in my chest becameunbearable. It seemed like the hundredth event I'd been forced to attend andshow my gratitude towards those trying to "help" us. What no one realized isthat nothing helped at all. I'd become an expert at masking the feelings thatate away at my stomach. The only thing that kept me from stomping off ininexplicable rage was the sight ofmy tormented uncle. Ifhe had the staminato make it through these events and continue breathing then so could I.

As I gazed at him in the comer ofthe room, I searched for the oldUncle Billy. The same one who would stay up late with Hayley and me,watching movies and eating popcorn; the one who brought us to UCONNgames and tried to make us cheer; the one who would toss me up as a littlegirl high over his head until I fell into his huge safe arms. Those same armslook defeated now, hunched over in sorrow. I felt another pang ofhurt sodeep that I wondered if hearts could stop beating from sadness.

I've certainly taken some lessons from this atrocity. I've learned toput life into perspective. Before, when I got a poor grade on a math test, Ithought it was the end ofthe world. Now, I know what it's like to experiencethe end ofmy world. No longer can I hear KK.'s laugh or feel Hayley's hug.I'll never again get to shoot hoops with Hayley in the backyard, or ask herfor help on French homework. Along with everything that "normal"teenagers deal with every day, 1am forced to face an unsolvable heartache.Now, 1 live each day for those who can't. 1 refuse to let the endless surge of .emotions stop me from living an active, successful life. Above all, 1 refuse tofall victim to this horrific tragedy. (conclusion).

Steven Hayes has no empathy for our family...as his defense team states. Hehas no remorse. The only thing that he is sorry about is that he got caught.Officer Martucci testified under oath that Hayes is a shrewd, manipulativeinmate...perfectly aware how his faked suicide attempts would affect thedeath penalty phase ofhis trial.

The defense team has thrown around terms like "bloodlust" and "mediacircus" ...they have blamed everybody from the media, our family, evenhave gone as far as to blame the jury....when there is only one person toblame...Steven Hayes. Steven Hayes murdered Jen, Hayley and KK. Hemurdered them in such a heinous fashion that the state ofCT w~s aghast.While horrified, they watched...they are still watching. They are fearful thatthis too may happen to them. But it didn't. .. it happened to us. StevenHayes had the money. Steven Hayes had the money and then decided to killJen and the girls. He could have let them live...and while it would havetaken years for them to heal from the torture and fear that they endured...1would have taken that choice any day. Life over death. No wonder thedefense team wants life over death. Hayes gave them death yet they ask forlife. It's absurd. Absurd because he does not deserve life. There are someacts and some people who are so evil that they do not deserve life andSteven Hayes falls into that category.

The only thing that my brother's family did was to go to sleep in their ownhome. They went to sleep on a Sunday night, like we all do. Unwindingfrom the week and recharging for the next. They had dinner together,watched mindless tv, talked and read the new Harry Potter book. None ofuswould know or could know, that it would be their last night. We will neverbe able to share their troubles or celebrate their triumphs. Three beautifullives taken...my brother's life destroyed and our life devastated because ofSteven Hayes's selfish evil acts.

.. • ~ I'Our family owes a great deal ofgratitude to the community at large. Theyhave helped to lift us daily. They have helped us to see light in the darknessand have given us hope that good can overcome evil. And, for that, I amgrateful. In search ofthat light and on behalfof securing a safer civilizedsociety, I ask that the court impose the death penalty on Steven Hayes.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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